New Hodges Fellow Announced: Nicolás Wiggenhauser

After receiving 34 high-quality applications for our Hodges doctoral dissertation fellowship, the FPO engaged in a careful two-stage selection process, first by examining the written application materials and second via a Zoom meeting with the four finalists and members of our FPO advisory council and board. We are delighted to announce our next Hodges doctoral dissertation for the academic year 2023-24:

Nicolás Wiggenhauser, PhD Candidate at Stony Brook University, with his dissertation entitled: “The Evolution of the Neural Basis of Learning and Behavioral Control in Primates and Humans.”

Nicolás Wiggenhauser’s research seeks to understand the evolution of intelligence in order to discover how and why humans are cognitively unique. In his doctoral project, he focuses on the evolution of the cortico-striatal system (CSS). This primordial neural network generates the behavioral repertoires (i.e., optimal decision-making, the construction of routines, and sensorimotor integration) that define human intelligence. His research attempts to profoundly impact the philosophy of orientation. His dissertation explains the evolution of decision-making, routines, and spatial navigation in different primate lineages by measuring the precise neuroanatomy of the CSS across the primate phylogeny. This data-driven approach contributes a new meaning to our philosophical understanding of existence: orientation is the cognitive outcome of evolution towards optimal adaptation. Nicolás’ dissertation provides a scientific explanation of the evolutionary reasons why orientation is crucial for human existence, adaptation, and success.

Congrats and welcome Nicolás!